Self-consumption: a path to cleaner, greener and cheaper energy production
With a renewed focus on self-sufficiency energy plans, there's never been a better time to invest in solar technology.
Homeowners who are planning to install a solar PV system this year will be disappointed and angered by the recent 65 per cent cut to the FiT rate, which came into effect on 15th January 2016.
Since it’s introduction in 2010, the prospect of the attractive export tariff had been a great incentive for homeowners considering an investment in solar panels: the promise of financial return would justify the initial costs.
However, for an industry that is working to resolve an environmental issue, government subsidies could never be the long-term, sustainable solution. It goes without saying that the environment, and its future health, are central to domestic and commercial solar energy generation. Renewable energy production is about minimising the demand on the National Grid and reducing the need for non-renewable energy sources that release CO2 into the atmosphere, which creates holes in the ozone layer and accelerates global warming.
Encouragingly, the push for renewables over recent years has been working: there are now over 750,000 UK households using solar panels to generate power. What’s more, until now, many have been selling it back to the National Grid, resulting in a UK energy supply that comprises one quarter renewably-sourced power; this is an eight per cent increase on the 2009 figure and a good way towards the EU target of 30 per cent by 2020. It’s great news!
It’s critical that this improvement doesn’t lose momentum now: home and business owners must continue to invest in solar panels and eco-technology. The recent cut means that the export tariff no longer offers as attractive financial returns, and so prospective owners of solar PV systems should focus on using this energy at home instead, rather than taking fossil fuel energy from the Grid.
Yes, 2016 is the year for self-consumption.
Self-consumption is the generation and usage of solar energy on one site: it’s the greenest, and now the cheapest, form of energy production. Solar panel owners can generate and then self-consume up to 100 per cent of their energy needs, depending on the PV system, weather conditions and other aspects of the property.
One downside of the current FiT system is that it requires many domestic PV owners to pay twice for their energy: once for the installation of panels and then each time energy is purchased from the Grid in the evenings, some of which power will have been generated by their PV system and exported back to the Grid that very day.
Self-consumption cuts out this unnecessary and costly middle step, and enables homes and businesses to cut their bills by generating and using valuable solar power on a single site.
So, how can self-consumption be put into practice?
Careful consideration and planning of energy use are the key self-consumption habits for home and business owners who are aiming to consume energy in line with the generation rates of their solar PV systems,
The three steps to self-consumption are: monitoring, saving and controlling.
By investing in key pieces of eco-tech to accompany their solar PV system, owners can ensure that they are maximising the financial benefits of their on-site energy generation and getting closer to the environmentally desirable state of self-sufficiency.
1. Monitor your generation
Monitoring the amount of energy being produced on site allows home and business owners to use this power most efficiently. Energy monitors, such as the myimmerSUN, track energy generation over the course of a day, a week or a year, and this information can then be used to plan energy use.
For example, is a solar PV system producing enough energy to power a washing machine and a kettle simultaneously, without additional power from the grid; or would it be greener, and cheaper, to power one device at a time?
2. Save the surplus
There’s nothing more satisfying than powering appliances and technology using energy generated by the solar PV panels on site; but what if there’s no one on site, or at home, during the day to use this energy?
Solar power generated during the day can be stored for use in the evenings thanks to the award-winning immerSUN switching device, which diverts surplus energy generated by a renewables system into an element driven device, such as an immersion water heater, storage heater or underfloor heating system.
By saving renewably-sourced power to heat water and floors during the evenings, immerSUN users are helping to reduce their reliance on energy from the National Grid, preventing further damage to the environment, and their bank accounts.
3. Control your home - remotely!
The development of advanced home automation technology and apps is making it increasingly possible to use energy generated on site by a solar PV system while it’s being produced, even if there’s no-one present to hit the ‘on’ switch. Appliances such as remote control switches and slow cookers are slowly arriving in the UK from the US - there are exciting times ahead!
When the proposed cuts to the FiT rate were first announced, many predicted the downfall of solar energy production and usage in the UK.
They couldn’t be more wrong: with a renewed goal of self-consumption, there’s never been a better time to invest in renewables systems and eco- technology, and see the financial and environmental rewards.
Click here to find out how the immerSUN can help you achieve a self-consumption energy plan.
Photo Credit: Lydia on flickr.